So far in Genesis we have highlighted Adam’s fall and Enoch’s fame. We move along a little further in the book and find a very sobering warning post as we look at Noah. His diligence in the shipyard was a blessing to his sons but, sadly, his drunkenness in the vineyard brought a curse upon a grandson. Noah’s life illustrates a tragedy seen too often: the spiritual accomplishments in a man’s early years can be offset so quickly by foolish acts in his later years.
The saintly and aged Mr. George Gardiner, a Scottish fisherman living his final years in Vancouver, could be heard at the weekly assembly prayer meeting sobbing out loud: “Lord, preserve me from becoming a foolish old man.” As a teenager, I thought that prayer was a rather strange one, especially coming from a man well into his eighties. But as one gets older one realizes that this dear man was well aware of Noah-like mistakes that can be made toward the end of Christian experience.
If we take the flood as the watershed in Noah’s life, we can divide his life in two and see him as:
Noah, the shipbuilder: a man of God
His World: Undoubtedly, Noah lived in very difficult times. Society, in general, was depraved (Gen 6:5), people were disobedient to God (1 Pet 3:20), and lived devoted to themselves (Matt 24:38). It was going to be a tremendous challenge for him and his wife to raise three boys in such an evil environment.
His Walk: In stark contrast to those around him, Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord, and his close fellowship with God was made evident in his flawless character (Gen 6:8). Like his great grandfather Enoch, Noah also walked with God. Spirituality doesn’t run in the blood, but it seems to run in families.
His Work: Even Sunday school children know that “Mr. Noah built an ark.” Having been warned by God about the coming flood, he dedicated long hours, days, months, and years to the building of the ark. He was very diligent in the way he did it: “according to all that the Lord commanded him” (Gen 6:22; 7:5). “He prepared an ark to the saving of his house” (Heb 11:7). His work helped his home. Does your job help or hinder your family?
His Wife: She is anonymous. That’s the point! She probably had more to do with the spiritual welfare of the family than we realize. When the whole family walked into the ark, one can almost be sure that it was a joint effort, even though more is said of Noah than of his wife. Many a man devoting all his time to the gospel is deeply grateful for a wife that can hold the fort in his absence. A little fellow on the mission field once wrote his mother a letter and thanked her that in spite of “Dad’s many long absences, things at home don’t change. We read the Bible together every day, pray, and attend all the meetings, whether dad is home or not.” We often notice the man with the Bible bag and overlook his wife with the diaper bag!
His Worship: Noah not only built an ark, he also built an altar (Gen 8:20). The family saw his act of worship; God was satisfied too. Perhaps, your boys have heard you talk about ballparks, bikes, bait, and bands, but have they ever heard you on your feet on a Sunday morning worshiping the Father?
His Wealth: By faith Noah became heir, the possessor, of righteousness (Heb 11:7). He practiced it in his daily life (Ezek 14:14) and preached it (2 Pet 2:5). As they came out of the ark, we read that “God blessed Noah and his sons” (Gen 9.1): What more could a father ask for?
Noah, the vinedresser: a man of the ground
Alas, the family man, so instrumental in the saving of his house, “began to be an husbandman” (Gen 9:1). The man of God became a “man of the ground” (Newberry’s margin). He turned his eye from heaven to earth, and having begun by faith he ended with folly. Read Genesis 9:20-28 very carefully, and notice Noah’s:
Carelessness: One wonders if the vineyard was really necessary. Noah “began to be a husbandman.” Without being dogmatic, it almost sounds like it was a hobby for personal consumption. “There is nothing wrong with a vineyard,” someone says. Well, for Noah it proved catastrophic. “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Cor 6:12). After a busy life of building and preaching, Noah seems to have too much idle time on his hands. He started to drink and lost control.
Drunkenness: Noah “drank of the wine and was drunk” (v 20). He survived a worldwide flood but sank in a bottle of wine. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Prov 20:1). Nehemiah could handle a cup of wine; Noah couldn’t. This is a solemn lesson for assembly Christians who think they can manage well spiritually in spite of social drinking.
Nakedness: In the last ten verses about his life, Noah’s nakedness is referred to four times (vv 20, 22, 23). Ham saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers, Shem and Japheth. Noah’s behavior caused his sons to walk backwards, literally (v 23). Many a father has caused his children to walk backwards, in a spiritual sense. Noah’s poor example brought a curse upon Canaan (v 26). The closing scene on this father’s life was one of utter foolishness.
Scarcely dry after my baptism, old Ram�n Mosquera, of Venezuela, whispered into my ear: “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof” (Eccl 7:8). He had a good finish. Sadly, Noah’s end depicts the “wickedness of folly” (Eccl 7:25).